Calgary’s fluoride vote could affect residents of neighboring municipalities



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The plebiscite on whether or not to reintroduce fluoride into Calgary’s drinking water could affect more than 100,000 Albertans living outside the city who will not be able to vote on the subject.

Calgary provides potable water to the surrounding municipalities of Airdrie, Chestermere and Strathmore, as well as parts of Tsuut’ina Nation, Foothills County and Rocky View County. But only city residents can influence Monday’s vote.

Airdrie’s community infrastructure manager, Lorne Stevens, said his municipality has made an agreement with Calgary to purchase water from the city.

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“The water that is supplied to Airdrie is the same as that which is in the Calgary system,” said Stevens.

“There was an additional water supply here for about 20 years, and that was between 1991 and 2011, when Calgary stopped adding fluoride to its water supply. We’ve had fluoridated water here before and will wait and see what Calgary’s new council plans on Monday and beyond.

In a statement, the City of Calgary noted that city council cannot hold a referendum of residents of another municipality.

“We encourage residents of these municipalities, who wish to share their point of view on fluoridation, to contact their municipality and elected officials,” said the city.

The city reiterated that it would only take the next steps to reintroduce fluoride to the water supply under the direction of the city council, as the plebiscite is not binding. The majority of city council candidates who responded to Postmedia polls on election issues say they plan to honor the plebiscite results.

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Calgary has a long history with water fluoridation, as Monday’s vote will be the seventh time city residents vote on the issue. Calgarians voted in favor of fluoridation in 1989 and 1998, but councilors opted to remove the additive in 2011. The most recent poll suggests 54 percent of Calgarians are in favor of reintroducing fluoride, while 32 percent oppose it and 14 percent are uncertain.

Stevens said Airdrie’s contract with Calgary specifies that the water must meet Health Canada’s drinking water guidelines, which state that the optimum level of water fluoridation is 0.7 milligrams per liter. . Small amounts of natural fluoride are already present in Calgary’s drinking water, ranging from 0.1 to 0.4 mg / L.

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The subject has caused some confusion among the citizens of Airdrie.

“We have received questions and concerns from our residents,” Stevens said. “But I am aware that Calgary is not launching a plebiscite for the region. They obviously ask their residents within their municipal jurisdiction what they think. “

Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services say in an official statement that they support community water fluoridation, saying it “offers significant benefits with very low risk.”

Both sides of the debate waged vigorous campaigns, with the pro-fluoride Fluoride Yes! and the Safe Water Calgary anti-fluoride groups clashed in the lead-up to the plebiscite.

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Twitter: @jasonfherring

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